worker on scaffolding by themselves

What’s the Difference Between an Employee & Independent Contractor?

Are you an employee or an independent contractor? You might not have paid this question much mind before, but, if you need to file for workers’ compensation, then the answer really matters.

For the most part, independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation and cannot use its benefits after a workplace accident. Only workers who are categorized as employees are guaranteed workers’ compensation coverage in all states, except Texas. If you were hurt at work and are classified as an independent contractor, then you might have to file a personal injury claim against the liable party rather than using workers’ comp.

Many industries primarily hire independent contractors, such as:

  • Trucking and shipping
  • Industrial
  • Construction
  • Warehouse and storage
  • Package delivery
  • Landscaping

To be clear, though, independent contractors can be employees in some contexts. It is inaccurate to broadly say that independent contractors aren’t employees.

Independent Contractors Can Be Employees

If you get hurt at work, never assume you are an independent contractor just because your boss says you are. There are countless examples from essentially all industries in which a worker should have been classified as an employee but was intentionally misclassified as an independent contractor. Some dishonest employers change up the worker’s employment classification to pay lower workers’ compensation insurance monthly premiums and fees. Or it is just a clerical error that could’ve been avoided had the employer been more careful.

Here in Georgia, you could technically and legally be an employee if you are:

  • Paid hourly
  • Given company tools to use
  • Required to perform your job in a specific way
  • Entitled to specific benefits like retirement plans

Even if you receive a 1099 form when filing your taxes, you could still be an employee. The details of your work matter.

As mentioned, you should never assume that you’re an independent contractor and give up on your pursuit of compensation before it begins. You could be an employee. Work with a professional workers’ compensation attorney like those you can find at The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC in Atlanta. We’re here to help workers from all industries and walks of life understand and use their rights to workers’ compensation.

For more information, you can check out our video center for a brief video from Attorney Hansford. Or call us at (770) 629-9321 and set up an initial case evaluation at no cost to you.

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